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A Descriptive Study of “Being with Woman” During Labor and Birth


  • Lauren P. Hunter CNM, PhD

    Corresponding authorSearch for more papers by this author
    • Lauren P. Hunter, CNM, PhD, is the Director of the Graduate Nurse-Midwifery Education Program and an Associate Professor at San Diego State University, in San Diego, CA.

Lauren P. Hunter, CNM, PhD, San Diego State University, School of Nursing, 5500 Campanile Drive, San Diego, CA 92182. E-mail:


The objective of this study was to learn more about women's perceptions of the nurse-midwifery practice of “being with woman” during childbirth. The descriptive, correlational design used a convenience sample of 238 low-risk postpartum women in a hospital nurse-midwifery practice, with two childbirth settings: a standard labor and delivery unit and an in-hospital birth center. The main outcome measure was a 29-item seven-response Likert scale questionnaire, the Positive Presence Index (PPI), administered to women cared for during labor and birth by nurse-midwives to measure the concept of being with woman. Statistical analysis demonstrated women who gave birth in the in-hospital birth center or who began labor in the in-hospital birth center prior to an indicated transfer to the standard labor and delivery unit gave higher PPI scores than women who were admitted to and gave birth on the standard labor and delivery unit. Parity, ethnicity, number of midwives attending, presence of personal support persons, length of labor, and pain relief medications were unrelated to PPI scores. Two coping/comfort techniques, music therapy and breathing, were found to be correlated with reported higher PPI scores than those of women who did not use the techniques. These results can be used to encourage continued use of midwifery care and for low client to midwife caseloads during childbirth, and to modify hospital settings to include more in-hospital birth centers.